I’m going to invite you to the Gospel of John. We are going to be in the Gospel of John together. We’re in chapter one, we’re looking at the Gospel of John. We’re going to go through the Gospel of John together, but we’re initially just going a little, we’re going a little slower in the beginning of John, because this is Christmas season. And this deals with the identity of Jesus, which is paramount to the Christian faith. When you think about the Christmas story, and most often people like to turn to the Gospel of Matthew or the Gospel of Luke, because those gospels deals with the particularities of the story of what happened with Jesus. And that’s important to understand what happened in the story. We just sing a song right before… Well, all of our songs were Christmas songs this morning, about the significance of this event.
Now I will say for Christianity, everything that rests from Christianity has to do with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15, if Jesus isn’t risen from the grave, we are to be most pitied out of all people, because we have our faith in a resurrected Messiah. So if that didn’t take place, our faith is useless. But you don’t have the death of Jesus without the birth of Jesus. And that’s what makes this so significant is that God would become flesh for us. And when you turn to the Gospel of John, what makes John so unique is John isn’t talking so much about what happened as it relates to the Christmas story of Jesus, but why it matters. Why is this important for our lives? People can be entertained by what you do. I know today I’ll probably check out some football game at some point.
And watch the genius of athleticism, like we’re enamored by things that are glorious, that maybe you like the beauty of the mountains and going up to see that. But we’re attracted to things that are genius, that are beauty, that seem other. People can be entertained by what you do, but people are compelled by why you do it. So you can be entertained for a little while when you watch Jesus’s ministry, you see people like that. When Jesus would show up, it was sort of like the circus came to town and they would want Jesus to perform a miracle. What Jesus did to them was amazing. But then there are some that joined in the mission that Christ called them on. And the reason it wasn’t because of the what, it was because of the why. They found a place for them to join into what God was doing as Jesus invited people in.
So the why becomes the pinnacle to everything that takes place. Now, I’ll say with John, he routes the why, the why of the calling of that we have in Jesus, in the who of Jesus is. Everything is built on the foundation of Jesus’s identity. And so when you turn to the Gospel of John, the first 18 verses, this is considered the prologue to the Gospel of John. Meaning John from here is going to share these narrative stories of the significance of who Christ is by what Jesus does. But before he starts to give us the details as to what Jesus does, he wants us to understand why this matters and who he is. And so these first 18 verses are these power packed trues that are spoken about the significance of Christ. And we looked at this together last week, we went through verses one to 12.
We skipped verse six to eight. I’m going to hit it today. But we talked about the significance of Jesus in this prologue of John. And today I’m going to hit the conclusion of 1:1-18, as we consider in our minds who this Christ is and why it matters for our lives. And I’m really going to fixate on verse 14. Verse 14 is going to kind of lay this foundation for us. And we’re going to use the surrounding verses to really unpack what verse 14 says. So let’s look at this together. I think the pinnacle verse of this prologue is found in verse 14 and he says this, “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we saw his glory. The glory is of the only begotten from the father full of grace and truth. The word became flesh.”
This is how I’m going to break this down for us. Every time you see an end in chapter 14, we’re going to stop and talk about, “The word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory.” We’re going to look at these three phrases together of the significance of Jesus, but the word became flesh. What does that mean for us? Well, we talked about the idea of word last week. We said, okay, so what does this word mean? John is introducing Jesus. This is how he begins the Gospel of John. In the beginning was the word. You got to think when you’re writing a story about someone, a few things that are important right off the bat, what is their name? And when were they born? And John says, in the beginning of John, he says in the beginning was the word.
And when you’re going to introduce Jesus to this world, what would you even say? The responsibility of that, how could you even begin to put pen to paper, to express the significance of who Jesus is? I know probably what I would do, I would say, “This is Jesus. He’s got a name. His name is Jesus. You should probably know that.” But rather than do that, John says in the beginning was the word. And then in verse 14 and the word became flesh. He chooses this particular identity for Jesus that is unique. But what John is doing is very important because he chooses this word word as a way to invite the world, to partake of everything that Jesus is. To understand the why and the who. Because in John’s day, this word word had a significant meaning among religious ways of thinking and philosophy throughout the world.
Greek culture had shaped this idea around this topic of word as being the beginning or the force behind everything. Philosophers would debate as they looked at the world, they would say this world sort of, it has this order. And it seems to have this meaning driven behind it and the way they express that was through this idea of word. And when John is saying, the word became flesh, it’s this invitation to understand that what they’re seeking after isn’t some ideal, some idea, it’s this person, it’s Jesus.
He unites everything in him. He gives purpose to everything behind him because he is, we saw last week is the creator of all of it. And this word has become flesh. It’s become personal. I’m trying to think in what way could we relate to this in our modern times, the word becomes flesh? About the greatest illustration that I can think of is, is you might be familiar with Stan Lee, not Stan Lee, but Stan Lee the comic guy who came up with all the Marvel characters that created the Marvel movies. If you watch any of the Marvel movies, Stan Lee made it a point to create himself within the movies. He became a character in his own movies. At some point, if you’re ever watching the Marvel movies, you’ll see Stan Lee will have some sort of insignificant role, but he appears in his movies of his comic book characters, it’s like creator becomes a part of his creation,
And this is the way we consider Jesus, except for much more than just Stan Lee. No way am I saying Stan Lee and Jesus are the same here. But what I’m saying is Stan Lee where he falls short is he becomes an active part. He’s not that role. He just acts a certain role in his movies. Jesus actually becomes a part of his creation. Creator becomes creature. Jesus takes on flesh. And the significance of this is that the God had not done this. In the tri unity of God, it tells us in John 4:24, that God is spirit. And Luke 24:39, the spirit has no flesh and bones, but Jesus becomes a part of his creation. And now for eternity, he will wrap himself in flesh.
Creator, joins his creation by becoming flesh. And what does that mean? He becomes personal. He becomes vulnerable. He becomes killable. Jesus relates to us. Have you ever been without in your life, homeless? So is he. Have you ever been falsely accused? So is he. Have you ever been mocked or betrayed by friends? So is he. Have you ever been beaten or abandoned or felt alone? So is he. Jesus relates to us by becoming like us.
Sometimes I meet people that argue that God can’t exist because there’s evil in this world. And when people sometimes they’ll look at the struggle of life and reach that conclusion. But I usually press into that a little bit. I understand that I think communicating through things like that, that they might feel isolated or alone, or maybe feel hopeless in certain circumstances. But I press into that to just ask people look, apart from God, how do you even have a concept of good and evil? Unless there’s this moral law giver who gives purpose to life and gives us all this moral [inaudible 00:09:20] by which we should live by, then the only other alternative that you have is this world is made by randomness and there really is no ultimate meaning. And so there can’t be an ultimate [inaudible 00:09:31] or moral, good or evil among us because we simply just evolve to where we are. It makes no sense.
But not only that, to assume there is no God because of evil in this world is to alienate yourself from the very God who became flesh to deliver his goodness to you. What I’m saying is God completely understands. And your frustration with evil, isn’t contrary to him. It’s in line with him. That’s why Jesus became flesh. Jesus came to defeat the evil of this world and give us an opportunity to turn to him as our King. That’s why John says in the beginning that the light pierced the darkness.
Now the reality is, and the truth is I can’t tell you why every bad thing that has happened to you has happened to you. One day God will. But I can tell you what it can’t mean. And it can’t mean that God doesn’t care. Because the very nature of what’s being expressed in John one is to demonstrate a God that is concerned for your soul to the point that he would become as creature. And the word became flesh. And John goes on and he says this in verse 14, “And he dwelt among you.”
When I think about John’s word choice here, I just commend John for what happens in how he expresses the image of Jesus and trying to encapsulate the significance of Christ in our lives and the way he chooses now in verse 14 to say, “And he dwelt among us.” John is using really just rich language to try to encapsulate in our minds the significance of this Jesus, by the way he chooses to express Christ in this way that he dwelt among us. Because the, what he’s saying about Jesus isn’t that Jesus just kind of showed up and here he is. What he’s saying is he’s choosing particular words that tap all the way back into the old Testament to give this illustration of the significance of Christ’s arrival. This word dwelt literally means tabernacled. It’s this idea of temple.
And to the Jewish mind, the temple of God was where the presence of God was made known. I think in Israel’s day, if you want to experience God as close as you can, it was to go to this temple and worship. But even at the temple, you couldn’t experience the greatness of his glory because it was wrapped within this building that no one could draw near to the room that contained God’s presence. Or at least most people other than the high priest who was only allowed into the room once a year.
And now God’s presence is among his people. I think what John is doing here is not only is he tying it to the idea of temple, but he’s also relating it all the way back to the time of Moses in the book of Exodus. In fact, he quotes from Exodus in a minute. But in Exodus, chapter 33 at the very end of the chapter, Moses says to God, “God, show me your glory.” That’s what he says in verse 17 is like, “God, show me your glory.” In Exodus 33:20, God says to Moses, “No one may look upon my glory and live.” This is where he gives the story to Moses, where he says, “Moses, turn your back to me into the cleft of the rock and I’ll place my hand against you. And when I pass by, you can see.” What the Hebrew says is the trail of my robe or the train of my robe. And what it literally means is the presence of God as it has departed.
Meaning even Moses couldn’t gaze directly at the glory of God made known to the point that he had to hide himself in that best what he saw was the glory of God, that is the trail of God as God’s presence left Moses. And even at that, the Bible tells us that Moses’s face glowed. And here, what John is saying is remember back in the Old Testament where they had the temple and they only had ever had one simple, and it was only just a couple of rooms. And in one room you couldn’t even go in and, but God’s glory was there. And that was as close as you could get to God’s glory and Moses at one point prayed to see God’s glory and not even Moses could see the glory of God, but rather he saw the trail of God’s glory as it departed from him. And that’s as close as he got.
God’s become flesh and he’s dwelt among you. Verse 18 just reminds us of the importance of this idea of seeing God. It says, “If no one has seen God at any time. God, the only son who is in the arms of the father, he has explained him.” What he’s saying is he is literally the exposition. He’s God in the flesh being demonstrated to you. If you want to know what God, the father is like, look to Jesus. That’s what Jesus says in John 14:9, “He who has seen me, has seen the father.” He is the glory of God made known in this world. 1 Timothy 6:16 says that no one has seen God or ever will see God.
But Jesus has become God in the flesh. Now the objection to this will be well, how do you really know that Jesus has done it? Because Jews would say, “Well, we remember the promises of the old Testament.” If you read the Old Testament and you get to the very end of the Old Testament, you get to the book of Malakai. And until the last chapter says to us that before Jesus comes, prophet Elijah will come and proclaim the arrival of Jesus. And John 1:6, in order to answer that objection, it says to us that, “A man came one sent from God and his name was John.” Verse seven, “He came as a witness to testify about the light so that all might believe through him, he was not the light, but he came to testify of this light. That the forerunner to the Messiah has come.”
What does this mean for us? What does this mean for us? When I think about the significance of what John’s saying here, religious people had a hard time with this. I would say religious people have a hard time with this and religious people had a hard time with this. And how do I know that? Just read the pages of John. The people most likely to object to everything that’s communicated about Jesus, it’s the religious people. They couldn’t embrace who Jesus said he was.
In fact, when you study church history in the first few centuries, the heretics that arose out of Christianity or responded to Christianity, the thing, the primary thing that they attacked, whether it was primary or as directly or indirectly, it was the identity of Jesus. That’s what they went after, the identity of Jesus. Religious people have a hard time with the sufficiency of Christ. The reason for that is religious people look towards this performance within themselves to validate their worth before God. Jesus isn’t enough. Or religious people will approach Christians and say, where is your temple?
You see what John is saying in John chapter one, that Jesus is the temple. In fact, when you get to chapter two of John, Jesus makes that very argument in chapter two, he says, “Destroy this temple in three days, I will rebuild it.” Or religious people will come and say, “Where is your priest?” And the book of Hebrews, it says of Jesus and chapter four verses 14 to 16, that he is our high priest. Or people will come and say, “Where’s your prophet?” Hebrews chapter one verses one and two. Jesus is your prophet.
Religious people will come and say, where’s the law to obey in order to prove your worth to God? In which Jesus says Matthew 5:17, “I came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill the law. Jesus is the fulfillment of the law.” Hebrews 8:13. He obliterates the law. Where is your sacrifice? It’s Jesus. It’s the sufficiency of Jesus in all things. What John is saying, the solution for our lives is that we don’t get a religion. What we get is a person. In John 1:14 then it says this, “And we beheld his glory. We beheld his glory.” It’s as if to say, look, pause right here and just think of the significance of what this is. God has become flesh for you. You have opportunity to behold his glory.
This idea, this word for glory carries this idea of weightiness. It’s really the basis for C. S. Lewis’s book, where he titles one of his books The Weight of Glory, the magnitude of Christ, how spectacular is this glory? We love things that are glorious. They captivate us. Sometimes to the point that they become our idols. We think that that’s the all to end all, but not recognizing that there is a creator behind it all. And if there are things in this life that we recognize as glorious, how much more, the one who made it?
And the one who becomes flesh so that we can experience him. See, what John is saying is when we say this phrase, we beheld his glory, it’s for us to stop and answer within our souls. Who is this Jesus, who are you? Who are you to me? Why should it matter? And John goes a little bit further as if to pepper that thought of we beheld his glory. And he says it like this, the glory, as of the only of be gotten of the father. This phrase, only begotten is an important phrase to think of. I think sometimes people come to this, the only begotten son, sometimes we come to this phrase and we misconstrue the meaning of what’s intended here.
We take this term son, and we try to apply it as if it literally fits in how we experience father and child relationship in this world. But what John is doing is he’s identifying the uniqueness here. The only son. If you have the King James, it says the only begotten son. So what it’s saying about Jesus is, is whatever he is, he is the only one that is like this. The Hebrew, or excuse me, the Greek word in this passage is monoganace which literally mono is one, ganace where you get this idea for in English, for genetics or genes. This monoganace, he’s the only one like this. He is unique in this sense. His identity is not to be compared in any other way to any other human being in the flesh because Jesus is while 100% man, is 100% God. What he’s saying is Jesus is of the same kind or class as the father. That’s why when Jesus says he who has seen me has seen the father, Jesus can make a statement like that because what is enwrapped in Jesus is 100% God just as the father is 100% God.
John 18, it goes on and it says to us in relationship to that, no one has seen God at any time. God, the only son who is in the arms of the father, he has explained him. He is the exposition of the direct report of everything that Jesus is. That’s why Colossians 2:9 says. “In him, the fullness of God is in bodily form.” So we talk in terms of Jesus being in sonship to the father. It’s not to say that God, the father had a physical son or birthed a physical son. But what it’s trying to correlate for us in our mind is that the nature of God is in Jesus just as 100% God is the father. 100% God is the sun.
This idea of sun in scripture isn’t just used for physically birthing sons. I think within the Bible in Mark chapter three, I think it’s in verse 17. James and John are referred to as the sons of thunder. Judas is referred to as the son of perdition. Or in the book of Acts Barnabas is referred to as the son of encouragement. It’s not to say hell, thunder and encouragement had kids, but they reflect the nature of what those phrases entail. And Jesus reflects the nature of the father because Jesus is God. And then he makes this statement. We beheld his glory, glory is the only begotten of the father full of grace and truth. Jesus is the supreme revelation of God in the most intimate of ways, radiating his glory full of grace and truth.
And this is where John in the most specific of ways now ties the story all the way back to Exodus 33 with Moses. Moses was like, “God, show me your glory. Show me your glory.” And God says, “No.” Or at least he says, “Not fully yet.” Rather there’s coming a day when I will take on flesh and the world may know me. Right now. Right now. You can know him. And the reason I say that this passage is now fully involving the story that’s found in Exodus is because if you turn to Exodus 34, what you see in the story in verse six, it comes to the point where the Lord passes in front of Moses and look how it describes it. It says the Lord passed by in front of him, Moses and proclaim, the Lord, God. Listen to this, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness and truth gracious abounding in truth.
And when John thinks about the glory of God made known for us, he ties this all the way back to the story of Moses and Israel would be thinking about this moment. This is the moment where Moses went up on the mountain and in chapter 34, he got the 10 commandments for the second time from God, because he broke the first ones. And God’s presence passes by him in a cloud that he didn’t even see the full glory of God. But when Moses comes back down from the mountain, his face is radiating. It’s glowing from the glory of God’s presence made known in his life. And it was just a fraction of what John says here. And we beheld his glory full of grace and truth. Full of grace and truth and it’s from this that the understanding of who Jesus is that when you read verse 15, you see why John here, John the Baptist, John the Baptist becomes so enamored with proclaiming who Jesus is to us.
You can be entertained by the what, but it’s the why driven by the who. Why should we care? And who is this? And when John the Baptist gathers this identity, the significance of Jesus, it tells us in verse 15, John testified about him and called out saying, “This was he of whom I said, he who is coming after me has proved to be my superior because he has existed before me.” Meaning he’s in the flesh now, but he’s eternal. That’s what makes him so incredible for of his fullness. We have all received grace upon grace. Full of grace and truth. Grace upon grace. This idea of grace is to welcome you in this idea of truth is to fill you up.
He describes in verse 16 is his grace upon grace. Meaning who’s welcome before the presence of this God? Because when you think in the Old Testament, well, Moses was fortunate. But who am I? Who am I to even consider? I’m not religious elite. I’m not a perfect person. I wouldn’t be described as my friends, as the spiritual one. But who? And he says it like this, “Look, it’s grace upon grace.”
It’s like thinking of the waves of an ocean. For every excuse you bring before God, another wave of his grace crashes over you. Grace upon grace. This is John saying to us, look, this is an invitation for anyone that recognizes they need Jesus. That Jesus has closed this chasm between us and him to give us a place to even encounter him. That isn’t his glory locked behind some tabernacle that one guy one time a year can get behind and see. This is the platform for you to know this Jesus. To let Jesus speak for himself and to embrace the goodness of who he is, to not walk in line with religion, but to walk in line with relationship. To look at these 18 verses and as the pinnacle of communication to who Jesus is. And now through the verses ahead, experience how Jesus related to others to recognize that you can experience the same Jesus too.
John 1:1-18 is to prepare for the story that’s to display the goodness of Jesus in a personal way. To grab hold of Christ. The only way you can know God is to know Jesus. I love and these verses ahead, Jesus just comes before early on in his ministry with his followers, he just comes with a simple invitation, “Follow me, follow me.” I love the simplicity of that. What’s my heart about today? Got your glory made known in my life that I could just follow you. Whatever you say. And my heart just tune in to the glory of that praise that you deserve through my life, because you have given me yours. Follow me.
Not only that guys, but I would add this to it, that in pursuing Jesus in this world, not only does he want to make his glory made known in your life, but he also wants to make his glory made known through your life. And never are you more like Jesus than when you live for Christ in a vulnerable way. You think about what made Jesus so incredible to the world around him was, he became flesh and he became the servant of servants. He sacrificed and he gave that the glory of God would be made known in our lives. And if our master was willing to do that, how much more should we, who are called to be his servants? Never more like Jesus in our lives than in our vulnerability when we give ourselves fully over him to him and the way that we care for others in this world. To know him and to make him known. And the word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we saw his glory. The glory is the only begotten full of grace and truth.